As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
The Sagrada Família, which Antoni Gaudí began designing in 1883, is due to be completed in 2026. Recently, 60 Minutes aired a feature on the masterpiece envisioned by “God’s architect,” and a new video depicts the work still be done, as well as what the church will look like when it’s finally completed. You can also take a virtual tour of the interior as well.
The 113th anniversary of Thomas Wolfe’s birthday was last Thursday, but the author lives on in America’s cultural memory thanks to the title of his 1940 novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. Unfortunately, the titular phrase seems to be taken at face value by many people these days, and that can lead to some groan-worthy invocations. A newly-minted Tumblr blog illustrates the point.
Morrisey, Lauren Groff, and Erica Jong are among the finalists for the 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award. The award is presented annually by the British magazine Literary Review in an attempt to “draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction, and to discourage them.” Past winners include Norman Mailer and John Updike (the sole recipient of a prestigious lifetime achievement award).
Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Bleeding Edge, which we covered in several Curiosities, is out this week. Also out: Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker; Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair; and a new translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron by UT-Austin professor Wayne Rebhorn. (For more on these and other upcoming titles, check out our Great 2013 Second-half Book Preview.)
At 1,700 words, J.K. Rowling’s new “History of the Quidditch World Cup” may not be as daunting a read as J.R.R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in its appeal to ardent fans. At Slate, a brief look at the Wizarding World’s latest reference book.